Search Results for ‘talc’

“Science Favors J&J in Talcum Powder Lawsuits”

For years lawyers have been suing Johnson & Johnson claiming that its baby powder has caused ovarian cancer, a theory that has mostly met with failure in court. This summer, however, a St. Louis jury found liability and ordered the company to pay $4.69 billion, on a related theory that asbestos contaminants in the product (as opposed to talc itself) caused the disease. On December 14 Reuters followed with a lengthy piece laying out, and implicitly siding with, the plaintiff lawyers’ accusations; the piece drew wide publicity, and the company’s shares sank by about $50 billion. Some analysts have written that J&J’s lawsuit payouts on the issue could reach $20 billion.

Now a leading business columnist has explained why he doubts that outcome. “Why? Because whether or not the company’s talcum powder contains asbestos, and whether or not it hid that fact from the public, the science remains firmly on J&J’s side.” [Joe Nocera, Bloomberg] How so? “There is no evidence that women who use talcum powder are any more likely to get ovarian cancer than women who don’t. In both California and New Jersey, judges have tossed out cases on exactly this basis.” So while plaintiffs make the most of their dark imputations of a cover-up, what they haven’t shown is that women who used the baby powder are any more likely to contract cancer than those who did not. Nocera: “And this is one mass tort where I’m convinced the science is going to win.”

Meanwhile, Mark Lanier, the Texas-based lawyer who won the St. Louis verdict, freely agrees that his efforts have helped affect J&J’s stock price. “It serves my purposes as a litigator to say, ‘Yes, get their attention; keep driving the stock down.'” [Matthew J. Belvedere, CNBC] And: “New York’s specialized court for asbestos lawsuits could become a pivotal battleground for litigation over talcum powder as plaintiff lawyers seek to establish a record of wins in a court system known for liberal rules and big jury verdicts.” [Daniel Fisher, Forbes]

March 4 roundup

  • Educated Canadian circles have politely indulged theories about how indigenous sovereignty is purer and more legitimate than so-called settler government. Ten thousand land acknowledgments later, comes the reckoning [J.J. McCullough, Washington Post] Read and marvel: “As lawyers and legal academics living and working on this part of Turtle Island now called Canada, we write to demand…” [Toronto Star; similarly, David Moscrop, Washington Post]
  • Plaintiff’s lawyers in talc case played footsie with Reuters reporters: “Judge Sanctions Simmons Hanly for ‘Frivolous’ Disclosure of Johnson & Johnson CEO’s Deposition” [Amanda Bronstad, New York Law Journal]
  • Bernie Sanders’ disastrous rent control plan [Cato Daily Podcast with Ryan Bourne and Caleb Brown] Housing construction unwelcome unless public? Vermont senator boosts opposition to East Boston plan to build mix of 10,000 market and affordable new homes on defunct racetrack [Christian Britschgi]
  • Happy to get a request from Pennsylvania to reprint and distribute my chapter on redistricting and gerrymandering, found on pp. 293-299 of the Cato Handbook for Policymakers (2017). If you’re interested in the topic, check it out;
  • Family courts deciding the future of a child commonly don’t take testimony from foster carers. Should that change? [Naomi Schaefer Riley/Real Clear Investigations, quotes me]
  • Supreme Court will not review Ninth Circuit ruling that Eighth Amendment’s prohibition on cruel and unusual punishment prohibits city of Boise from enforcing law against homeless encampments when there are insufficient beds available in shelters [Federalist Society teleforum and transcript with Andy Hessick and Carissa Hessick]

Liability roundup

  • “Syracuse woman sued for not letting adopted cat sleep in bed with her” [CNYCentral]
  • St. Louis talc cases: “Thus, in order to vindicate their Due Process rights regarding personal jurisdiction…, the defendants had to litigate with over $5 billion in potential liability hanging over their heads. Not too many defendants [can] do that.” [Jim Beck on Johnson & Johnson win]
  • Allegation: “instructed Thomas to get behind the wheel of Thomas’ Avalanche to make it appear that Thomas was driving the vehicle at the time of the staged accident.” [WDSU on indictment of five in New Orleans car-crash scheme] “Those cameras right there saved between $150,000 and $200,000 just by capturing the fraud and us not having to go and defend it.” [Mike Perlstein, WWL] “Don’t listen to the lawyers, take tough action to curb [Louisiana] car insurance costs” [R.J. Lehmann and Marc Hyden, The Advocate; earlier here, here, and here]
  • Washington Legal Foundation monograph on judicial oversight of expert testimony [Evan Tager et al.; related webinar] “Stupid expert tricks,” pharmaceutical edition [Jim Beck]
  • “Art Imitates Life: ‘Billions’ Describes Six-Figure, Part-Time Jobs On Asbestos Trusts” [Daniel Fisher, Legal Newsline, 2018]
  • “DOJ eyes requirement that False Claims Act whistleblowers disclose litigation funding” [Alison Frankel, Reuters, remarks by Deputy Associate Attorney General Stephen Cox]

Liability roundup

The Equal Rights Amendment expired. Can it be revived?

Lawmakers in both houses of the Virginia legislature have approved resolutions endorsing the Equal Rights Amendment, a measure proposed by Congress in 1972. An Associated Press story, in line with proponents’ characterization, describes the actions in Richmond as a “ratification,” as “final,” and as making Virginia “the critical 38th state.” Is that the case?

The Office of Legal Counsel of the U.S. Department of Justice has issued an opinion concluding that because the requisite number of states did not ratify the Equal Rights Amendment before Congress’s previously imposed deadline, it cannot be adopted now without starting the amendment process over. [Keith Whittington] The ruling binds executive branch agencies including the National Archives, which per AP “said it would abide by that opinion ‘unless otherwise directed by a final court order.'”

Proponents say the time limit written into the original ERA shouldn’t count because it appeared in the measure’s preamble rather than its main text, and argue that some combination of Congress and the courts are free if they like to count as valid all extensions (whether assented to by a supermajority or by a bare majority), revival measures, and ratification votes taking place at later times, while not counting as valid five states’ rescissions of earlier approval. The case of the 27th Amendment, which was proposed with no time limit and did not reach the requisite number of states until more than two centuries later, suggests that contemporaneous “meeting of the minds” is not so intrinsic a feature of the amendment process as many legal scholars once assumed; on the other hand, a 1921 Supreme Court case, Dillon v. Gloss, confirms that Congress did not act unconstitutionally in prescribing a time limit. [more: Michael Stokes Paulsen, Yale Law Journal, 1993]

The result before long could be a face-off in which advocates claim the ERA has been duly adopted as the 28th Amendment to the Constitution, while others say it hasn’t. [Mike Rappaport, Law and Liberty]

More: If you accept some ERA proponents’ theory that time limits don’t apply *and* that states can never rescind, then — surprise! — we may already be over the required number of states to require Congress to call a balanced budget constitutional convention [Josh Blackman]

Liability roundup

  • As one who wrote at length about the silicone-implant litigation at the time — founded as it was on junk science theories hyped to panic potential plaintiffs — I agree that Elizabeth Warren has nothing to apologize for about her bankruptcy work for Dow Corning. Move on to better criticisms, please [Darren McKinney, WSJ] Related: Federalist Society teleforum on mass tort bankruptcies with Steven Todd Brown, Ralph Brubaker, and Dan Prieto;
  • “What should be the duty of public retailers whose customers have bizarre or offensive clothing, appearance, demeanor or behavior but do not actually engage in or threaten violence on the retailers’ premises? To avoid risk, should the retailers exclude them from their stores?” [Eugene Volokh quoting federal court opinion in Budreau v. Shaw’s Supermarkets, Inc. (D. Maine)]
  • New York residents should brace for higher taxes as trial-lawyer-backed bill in Albany exposes public authorities to more road claims [John Whittaker, Jamestown Post-Journal]
  • “Kansas Supreme Court Throws Out Personal Injury Damages Cap” [Associated Press]
  • Whose proposal for joint trial counts as triggering removal of mass action under the Class Action Fairness Act? The court’s? Choice between federal and state courts implicates fundamental questions of fairness [Eric Alexander, Drug and Device Law on Supreme Court certiorari petition in Pfizer v. Adamyan]
  • Glyphosate, talc verdicts suggest juries may be paying more attention to purported smoking-gun documents than to scientific evidence on causation [Daniel D. Fisher, Northern California Record; Corbin Barthold, WLF] “Inconsistent Gatekeeping Undercuts the Continuing Promise of Daubert” [Joe G. Hollingsworth and Mark A. Miller, WLF]

July 31 roundup

Liability roundup

Liability roundup

  • Court of appeals throws out class action against provincial lottery Loto-Quebec: “[The lead plaintiff] said she wouldn’t have bought the tickets had she known the odds were so slim.” [Canadian Press/CBC]
  • And there was much rejoicing: Florida high court finally adopts Daubert, meant to curb use of faulty and unproven science in litigation [Karen Kidd, Florida Record, Beck]
  • Fake car-crash claims alleged: “5 SoCal Chiropractors Busted In $6M Insurance Fraud Scheme” [CBS Los Angeles] “Three Men Found Guilty Of $31 Million Slip-And-Fall Scheme Involving Homeless People” [Jen Chung, Gothamist] Cambridgeshire, England: “Footage shows moment car ‘runs over foot’ of binman accused of crash-for-cash scam” [Alex Matthews, The Sun (U.K.)]
  • If appellate review somehow leaves intact the scientifically baseless $2 billion Oakland verdict over glyphosate/Roundup, new changes in federal tax law might cut into plaintiffs’ winnings [Robert Wood, Forbes]
  • Tamper proof? Old bottles of baby powder bought on eBay are central to plaintiffs’ claims that Johnson & Johnson baby powder may have contained asbestos fibers, a theory that has underlain several large verdicts [Daniel Fisher, Legal NewsLine; John O’Brien, same; Jef Feeley and Margaret Cronin Fisk, Bloomberg]
  • “Michigan’s lawmakers have passed legislation to reform the state’s worst-in-the-nation auto insurance market.” [Ray Lehmann, R Street/Insurance Journal, earlier]

Liability roundup